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Book Review: The Last Tale of the Flower Bride by Roshani Chokshi

Book Review: The Last Tale of the Flower Bride by Roshani Chokshi

Once upon a time a man who believed in fairytales married a mysterious woman named Indigo Maxwell-Casteñada. He was a scholar of myths. She was heiress to a fortune. Both were searching for something that was missing in their lives, and they hoped that the other would fill the void. In exchange for her love, Indigo asked one thing of her bridegroom: he must never pry into her past. Besotted, the bridegroom agreed. But it was never a promise he could keep indefinitely.

When Indigo’s estranged Aunt falls gravely ill, the couple are forced to return to her childhood home, the shadowy and crumbling House of Dreams. It’s here that the curious bridegroom is drawn into the secrets of his wife’s past – a place where the lines of reality and fantasy blur. The house seems to whisper to him, promising to reveal a secret from his own past, long forgotten, if he unveils Indigo’s dark and enigmatic history. The bridegroom knows he shouldn’t betray his wife, that she isn’t someone to be crossed, but the lure of secrets revealed proves impossible to resist.

The Last Tale of the Flower Bride is a many-faceted novel – a mystery wrapped up in a love story wrapped up in a haunting tragedy. There’s a fever dream atmosphere to the book, blending fantasy horror with the real world traumas of abusive parents, lonely girls and toxic friendship. The story moves between the past and the present, the bridegroom’s search for answers running parallel to Indigo’s childhood, told through the eyes of her best-friend and soul sister Azure. The girls come from entirely different backgrounds – Indigo drips with wealth, whilst Azure lives with her neglectful mother and her mother’s lowlife boyfriend – but they share the belief that they’re made of magic. If they can play by the faeries’ rules, the girls believe they will eventually transcend their human bodies and ascend to an enchanting Otherworld.

You said: “If you pry, you’ll destroy our marriage.”

But oh, my love, you lied.”

Whilst we don’t know what transpired between the two girls, we do know that something eventually sent Indigo running and kept her from returning to her beloved House of Dreams – a place she never wanted to leave as a child. She’s cagey about her family, and keeps strange mementos – hair, bones and teeth that might belong to an animal but might belong to something else entirely. Yet the bridegroom loves her, and if it weren’t for his own trauma – a painful event buried so deep he can’t even remember what it is – he might have been content not to pry. But this is a story of damaged souls and broken hearts, and those kinds of stories never do run smooth.

Roshani Chokshi has such a natural way with words, spinning sentences that feel like poetry as you read them. The descriptions of the House of Dreams veer between beautiful and horrifying, painting a perfect place for Indigo and Azure to escape to, and then tearing it – and them – apart. There are stories within stories across the chapters – lessons in morality and love and deception – which gives the whole book an eerie, otherworldly and intoxicating vibe. The bridegroom is also never given a name, further adding to the dark fairytale feel of the book.

Finishing The Last Tale of the Flower Bride feels like waking up from a dream where you’re not sure what was real and what was your slumbering subconscious playing tricks on you. It’s a spellbinding adult debut that weaves a gothic tale of secrets, stories, danger and tragedy. Gorgeously dark and lyrically written, this book will haunt your thoughts in all the best ways.


The Last Tale of the Flower Bride is published by Hodder & Stoughton on 16 February 2023

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